An Oral History of Hinckley

By Permission of Colin Hyde & Westfield Community Centre

2. Out of Hinckley

An army wife in South Africa and China

Hinckley Territorials answering the 'Call of their Country 9 August 1914'
Hinckley Territorials answering the 'Call of their Country 9 August 1914'

Ireland, Royal Victoria Barracks, Belfast, 29 September 1887 was it? I'm not sure now, I shall be 107 years old on the 29 September. Father was an army Captain, Mother's from farming people in Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh. He was sent over from England.

The first time I went from England to Johannesburg, Pretoria, was from Chatham Barracks. Mary was about 9 months old... we had to go out there hurriedly, something was on there. It's a very nice place... a lovely country.

Proper houses, the people who were out there first were the Dutch people. They were quite nice people too, someone you could speak to, better than the darkies - I wouldn't trust them. Breakfast in the morning, have your bath. Then you go out and do your shopping. If you want anything from the canteen, they'll send it up, you go down the canteen and order it. Then the day's your own 'til lunch time. All I do is to cook the dinner, and dish it up because I won't let the boys touch it. They clean the vegetables and that's all I want, after that I won't have them in the kitchen. All the married women there... they had an easier life, they made the Blacks do it - they were Welsh, they were artful. My mother used to write to me and say, be careful of what you eat and look at all you food if you have the Black people touching your food. I do the cooking but nothing else in the house.

The Dutch and what Blacks there were in quarters had to pay for what they wanted before they got it - there was no trust. They army had nothing like that - we used to make our order out and phone it through to London clothing and everything we wanted. To dress a little kiddie, say a twelve month old, it cost you to buy from the Dutch in the drapers shops about £7 - not worth it - it's hideous, a lot of money. 'No fear,' I says, Til send to London.'

As regards working I didn't. All the housework and shopping was done, I used to go out and do the shopping and they'd send it up from the canteen, one of the soldiers would bring it up.

They'd got their verandas all round the house, and they'd got their beds... swing cots, you know. People... they have a bath... no one could see them not even the people in the house, they'd get out of their bath, get into their swing in the hammock until they're dry and then get up and dress.

You'd got your own quarters, army furniture, arm-chairs for the grown-ups, what they call saddle chairs and you'd got your beds, blankets and sheets, everything provided. When you pack up and you've got to go to another country to do service you leave your things behind, you mustn't take anything with you, and if anything was lost we'd got to pay for it.

They'd tell you, keep the children away from the huts, I mean their prisons, where the snakes are, keep them away from there... cobras, pythons, cor they are a size. They'd go under three houses together. You'd stand there and have a good laugh at them - one of the sergeants came along and says, 'You wouldn't laugh at them if they were loose.

The only thing you'd find is, if a snake had got out you might find a dead body... but you could always tell because they'd been poisoned or else they'd get a tail end of a snake - they'd leave something from the snake. The amusements they used to have, the boys, was to get a snake and dig a deep pit and put a snake in and a couple of scorpions and see them fight 'cos the snake can't get over.Jt'd get it's head up to make a bite. The troops liked that every evening, they never missed. All those who wanted to go for a long walk across the veldt and then they used to come back again, 'Sit down before we have our supper,' they said, 'and we'll watch these, 1 Nice, gentle swearing, the sergeant major says, 'You'd better be careful, the flag's wife's over here. Tell the boys to keep their dirty news to themselves.' I've had a good many laughs out there.

The only thing we didn't agree with, say the Dutch and the Blacks, if they'd done anything they were put in prison, an underground prison. They used to make them send them down, undo the gates, they had to... catch as many snakes as they can while it was daylight for the people who were working in and out so any of them won't get bitten by them. Underground, I don't know what they were after, whether they were looking for diamonds...! don't know...I wasn't interested enough to ask. If they robbed, burglaries... if you could catch hold of them they'd give them any... God's quantity of punishment for perhaps a trifle... silly little things. My husband said, if that had been our men they'd have thrashed them and let them go, but they don't do that out there, not what we call punishment. The Dutch would think no more of getting the Blacks together and shoving them down in with the snakes. That's the difference with the two, the Blacks wouldn't do that.

Thunderstorms and lightning - it's a picture. See the sky, it just seems as if it's going to come down on you, and when the thunder goes... talk about the army drums, that's how the thunder sounded there. 'Course it's all open plains.

A different view altogether in China, straight across China... Peking. Yes, it would be about 1910. They don't tell you what's going on, you've got to read it in the papers. We went from Johannesburg across the water to China we landed in Peking; we were stationed at Peking, Shanghai and the other places - there were nine of them.

The people were all right, if they hadn't been as friendly it wouldn't have been so nice. I think myself, 'cos that's me, I’m a bit suspicious of people. I liked them (the Chinese) I got on very well with them. They wouldn't let you hit the children. They'd got their own place, they mustn't come into our part. Only those you'd got, if you'd ordered a cook for the duration. I had a four room bungalow - two bedrooms, sitting room and a dining room, all furnished.You could watch them... but you mustn't go into the gate, Peking's gate... it's all gated in. You can see them do marching and they were cruel. They'd got these husband said they were twelve years old... just time to go out riding on horses and if any of them fell off they put the whip on them, it was like a cat-o-nine-tails, leather on the end of a stick.

They were in Peking, a different part... they buried the Prince down there when we were there. The Prince, the son died, a young fellow of about 25 I think he was. He died and they had this black thing put across the railings so no-one could see the mourners I suppose.

Only one parade I think it was the day my girl was christened - and the royalty came and that was a little while after the son, the heir to the Chinese throne, he died. Bags of flowers, people in their cars, and I don't know how many trying to walk behind... it just looked like coming from a football match, whole crowds of them.

Oh yes, it was a marvellous place (The Great Wall). You wouldn't think they could ride a car on it. Motor cars on the top, I don't know if they do it now. You'd got to watch out though, they were a bit of a careless lot.

We used to go into the church - well, what they call a church. They used to have animals in there, mixed up with people, it used to stink like anything. I said, Tm not going to church today. I got out of it I went twice.

A medical officer said don't let the children go near the Chinese children 'cos any disease he says they'll only take it, keep them away. So the children would run over and I'd say, 'No! No! Our children would have played with them nicely, I said, 'No you mustn't, they are sick and you don't want to take pills. No, well you mustn't go near them. That's the way we used to stop them from going 'cos otherwise they used to sneak out through the legation, get out in amongst the Chinese town. They're all singing and dancing there and of course our kids would do the same.

I liked Peking because you were in with the elite - toffee nosed. Chinese - the old men are worse than the young men. Crafty - the look on their face. I came in, he (her husband) says, 'Did you have a nice afternoon?' I say, Those crafty old devils.' He said, 'What have they been up to, say anything to you they shouldn't?' I say, 'No, it wasn't for the sake of getting pinched.'

There was no association. If they had have done they'd have had them up. They were very strict on anything like that. Unless you actually live inside with them you don't know what's going on.

We were getting all ready for a dinner and dance with the Germans. They came to us the night before on the Monday, on the Tuesday we were going to them. A cable came through from England, stop all leave at once, get packed up. The next thing we know we were on our way up here to England to fight - The Great War (World War One).

Well, the telegram came. We went by boat from Peking, then we had nearly two days journey in the train. I didn't mind, I was longing to get there and see my people. I had three killed in one week - my father's nephews. There was Will died on the Monday, on the Wednesday Charlie died and on the Friday or Saturday, I'm not sure which now, Douglas died, all within the one week. They were fighting - the '14-'18 war.

Growing up in the Potteries

New Buildings, Hinckley
New Buildings, Hinckley

I was born at Stoke on Trent... 1921. Me dad, he was a printer in the pottery trade - prints as you used to put on plates and what have you. He had women working for him as was transferrers, they used to put them on the plates for him. It was a poor job in them days, all the pottery, it wasn't like it is today, no money it.

Seven of us... originally they were army barracks but that's going back, I can't remember them as a barracks but that's what they used to tell me. So it was in a square and there were about 15 or 16 houses in this square. When they were all full there were no end of kids... They were all big families, like ours, seven at a time, so you can imagine how many kids there were about. The toilets were 20,30 yards away. We used to have to come out the front door and walk all the way round to the square. About every winter all the bloody toilets were frozen over - terrible in them days.

Most of us - there were no end of kids growed up together and we all finished up in the potteries, you know, in the different trades in the potteries, warehouse lads and one thing and another. I were a polisher. When they used to fire them in the kilns and the little tiny bits come off and stuck to the plates we had to grind them and polish them off.

I went in the army when I were 19 or so I had five or six years in the trade. I was constricted I was... didn't like going in the army. I went to India to start with. From India I went to Iraq, Iran and all the way round the Middle East, I think it were about 13 or 14 different countries as I visited.

We got married and I came to Hinckley to live, that were in 1942 I think. It were all right, different altogether to Stoke...what with the different factories. At Stoke... it's all in them days what we used to call pot banks... in other words they were all factories which made pottery.

I came from out the potteries into the hosiery. Piece of cake, easy, nowhere near the hard work of the potteries, nowhere near it. It seemed to be more heavier. We either used to have to carry them (the pots) on our head or on our shoulders or in the arms - plates, you'd pile them on top of one another and put your arms under 'em like that and carry them... two or three dozen at a time stacked up. Cups, you used to put a tray on your head, a big long un and fill it all with cups and carry that from one place to another. Same with saucers, you used to carry them in a big round basket and you used to put your arm in it and swing it up and put it on your shoulder. Many time you'd drop them, you'd pay no attention to them.

Much better here than it were in Stoke. I think when I first went in... when I were 14, it were about 18 bob (90p) a week but when I went into the hosiery that 18 bob turned into about three or four quid, much better pay here. I thought I were well off money wise. It's a bit better here than it is in Stoke, I think so anyway.

Hop Picking in Kent

London Road, Hinckley
London Road, Hinckley

I was born in Woolworth (London) originally and then we moved to a place called Peckham.

When we used to go out into Kent that was really thoroughly enjoyable. Used to go out on the back of a van, you know, what you'd do, at the time the hop picking season started you'd be advised from the farmer that it was about to start and then one or two of the families would group together and organise a van to take you down, but if you couldn't manage a van they had these special trains that used to run from London Bridge down to Kent.

During the period that you were hop-picking you lived in a wooden hut. We used to sleep on straw beds, you'd get inside the hut and there'd be a big bale of straw, sometimes there were two bales of straw depending on the size of the hut. You'd shake all the hay out and then what we used to do the first morning that you were there, one of the farmer's hands would come round with a big cart load of sticks - what they call faggots - they'd be about...two or three feet long and whilst he weren't looking you'd get one or two of these faggots off the back of the van because what he used to do was to dish two faggots per day to each family you see and if he had any left over then you'd get these faggots and push them under the stove to give it a lift sort of thing. It's for doing your cooking and that on you see because you had to build your own fire-place you know. Oh it were really nomadic if you like but quite enjoyable - it's something you get used to like everything else.

You used to sit at a thing they called a bin and I suppose it would be, what, two or three yards long and it would be this hessian sacking...and what you'd do, you'd pull down these vines from the top of the wires. I don't know whether you've every seen a hop field, the wires run all the way across, well they must be what, ten, 15 foot high I suppose and you pulled 'em down and just sling one of these wires over the bin as quickly as you could and every so often someone would yell out, 'Get your hops ready.' What you had to do was pick out all the leaves because sometimes when you pulled the vines down the big leaves would fall into the bin so you sorted all those out... then the measurer would come round with a bushel basket and measure your hops out into a big sack, which they used to call a poke, and they used to fill those with ten bushels of hops and he'd mark your card with how many bushels you'd picked and at the end of the season you'd go up to the farmhouse and collect your money, you know, or if you liked... you could draw your cash each week. And then on Sundays, if you wanted a roast dinner rather than over the... outside fire, you used to go to a local bakery with your potatoes and your meat and whatever you wanted cooking...and they'd cook it for you... oh, great fun.

Used to have various vans coming round selling sweets or cake, you know, it was a recognised thing. Milkmen used to come round into the hop fields, you didn't really have to go outside the hop field because all the vans used to come round periodically. It was only if you wanted certain things that you'd go into the local village.

You don't know what you missed! When it was nice, we used to get some really beautiful weeks in September, 'cos that's when the hop picking really starts, about the 2nd or 3rd September and it usually goes on to about the end of September, but there were times when the weather wasn't quite so good, but you still had to out. I mean, we used to start at seven o'clock in the morning 'til twelve and I think it was half an hour lunch we had and then it was half-past twelve to half-past four I think it was, or five, but we were always up at half past five in the morning, you know... 'cos what we used to do, we used to get the fire all ready first thing in the morning. I always remember the tea we used to drink - you'd probably say ugh! I wouldn't fancy that - but what we used to do, a pot, an aluminium pot, and you'd get the water boiling, in would go the tea, in would go the milk, in would go the sugar and give it a good old stir... beautiful, beautiful tea.

What used to happen was...the summer holidays used to... finish at the beginning of September. Well I always used to be missing the first three weeks didn't I, see, well me and my brothers and sister and we always used to get told off for missing the first three weeks of the term. It wasn't our fault!

A Life in the Hosiery Trade

The Hollow, Earl Shilton
The Hollow, Earl Shilton

My father used to carry the night soil in those days (in Mansfield) from the toilets - used to call it the night soil. Well, it was a job you see, it'd got to be done. There were no water toilets but all there was, was a huge tin and there was a huge cart that used to come - an awful filthy job but a job that had to be done.

I was the youngest of five. My sister was a seamstress and a mender - she worked in a hosiery factory. My brother was a master butcher, he slaughtered for Walkers in Leicester in later years. My other brother, he started work at spinning mills and then he went onto the train, first as a cleaner - there were engine sheds in Mansfield - and then as a fireman and finished up as an express driver for the IMS. My other sister worked in the cotton mills and died early.

My sister worked in the factory and there was an opportunity for what they call a belt boy. I left school at 14. Some of them went to grammar school but I didn't 'cos I knew I had to go to work. I knew very well that my father and mother could use the money.

All the machines were driven by belts - no chains, all belts. You had one huge AC motor with a huge flywheel and the complete thing was driven by one main shaft that went right from one end of the room to the other. It was all a mass of belts. You may have a row of machines and then a belt came from the machine onto a set of hangers and then the shaft was on the floor. Some of the belts were huge and long and I learnt how to mend them. Sometimes they'd last for ages but when the main belt went, it was six inches wide and it had to be made, laced, by a proper saddler. I only knew that break twice the time I was there. When they did break you had to have... these were like that with a big stud, about half an inch - imagine how big they were, to go right through the belt with two prongs. You get them on purses and all sorts of other things.

The first day at work I can remember my mother brought me some overalls but they had to cut them down because they were too big. And the smell, that was another thing, I had to get used to the smell of a factory, it had got a smell of its own. It's hard to describe but it's a factory smell - if you went in - it's a smell of oil, it's a smell of waste, it's a smell of yarn, bobbin, fabric, all together. You can't hear yourself speak. People who work in factories have got a language all their own. People say I couldn't work if it's this loud', but you get used to it. That's another marvellous point in a factory. You can have all this machinery and it's loud as anything and yet two men can talk or just shout to each other. Once the machinery's still it seems eerie, it seems funny. I started in 1923. I was seven years there and of course from belt boy I started to watch the machines and learn how they worked. There were other men there I used to go round with and all the time when they were doing jobs I used to watch them. I'd got a flair for being in the mechanics shop and I supposed the flair carried me through and I enjoyed it, I understood the machines and got on well. I was in a factory where there were such a lot of different machines and I learnt to be on the shop floor, I learnt how to use a vice, how to drill, how to file properly, how to use a grindstone and all that sort of thing.

After seven years there was a bit of the start of the depression of course and from there I went up to various factories in Yorkshire, Leeds, Bradford, Keighley and then I came down to Leicester. Then of course this job came at Arthur Bolsworth's at Hinckley. I was able, without a family, to move around, I had no commitments you see.

Lower Burbage
Lower Burbage

Everybody knew of Hinckley, it didn't matter where you was, what Hinckley did everybody followed suit. If Hinckley was a bit quiet everybody else was quiet. All the new attachments, all the new styles, they all started in Hinckley - whatever Hinckley was doing everybody else was doing the same. Their methods were more up-to-date which I could see was the reason why what Hinckley said was the thing to do. Their ideas were better, their methods were better.

The best job I ever had in my life - the ICI fine jerseys at Shilton. They made these huge body machines, not stockings, they made fabric. I loved that and of course I'd been in the trade, I'd been on the bench and so forth and they sort of welcomed me with open arms because a lot of them were from college. There's a big difference between working in college and going out in the open world - know what I mean? There's a limit to what they can teach you - they can give you a certain amount of knowledge in college regarding machines but the thing is a lot of things that happen to machines don't happen to them while they're in college. Therefore you're in a mess you see. I used to say to some of them - they used to have these big motors come out and bearings had to be taken out, proper tools had to be used to get the bearings off, and I used to say, 'You know you're safer with a revolver than doing that! I've seen it change from a girl working four machines and working hard, to a man with new ideas in hosiery, work 60.

I've seen the girls when their mums used to teach them or they've come to learn, they're perhaps been for two or three days or more than that - I've seen girls cry. I've seen girls go home, 'cos they couldn't find it (the Whale). Then all at once there'd be hell of a hullabaloo - she'd got it. That was the secret of the whole thing, you were looking for a hole that in the first place you thought wasn't there and then you got your eye in and that hole became as big as a football and from then it was all plain sailing. Of course the mothers used to pay, I mean Atkins at one time used to accept money so I understand. Years ago, mothers could pay Atkins so much for their daughters to come along and show them how to link, 'cos a linker was marvellous.

When the war had gone, people were ready to buy stockings, nylon was just coming in, cotton and wool and so forth. The girls of the day, the war gave them different ideas, I mean, a young girl had passed through the atmosphere of war and she was a woman - you know what I mean? The war had given them a different standard. Stockings were becoming more elegant and beginning to get different colours, different shades, blacks were going out, every colour under the sun was coming, different sorts of styles of heels, shoe factories were altering their things, clothes factories altered the style of things and so forth. So therefore, those that hadn't got the up-to-date machinery to make all these different things... were in trouble and that's what happened. That's the story of Hinckley. A lot of them couldn't be bothered to spend the money and make the machinery more up-to-date.

Coming from Wales, looking for work during the depression

Barwell High Street, Top Town
Barwell High Street, Top Town

I came up from Wales 55 years ago when I married, I was 21. My husband went to work at Burgess Products 'cos the work was in the Midlands, there was not work in Wales, there was a deep depression on.

My father, he ran away from London when he was 14. His father married again and he didn't like his stepmother so he ran away, you see, and he came up to Wales. He went on board ship... and he was a seaman all his life. He met my mother...there were seven of us altogether. When he was 42 he was drowned. Of course my mother was left a widow at 38 with all us children to bring and they wanted her to put some of us into a home but she wouldn't. And you didn't have help in those days... you'd got nothing like that, they had what they called public assistance - you had to go cap-in-hand and more or less beg to these Board of Governors as they call them. If they thought they'd give you two and six, (12p) they'd give you two and sixpence. Oh it was hard times, hard times.

When I was a child I was very ill with pneumonia, double pneumonia and I can remember them fitting up this tent to give me oxygen, 'cos you can't breathe, your lungs are terrible. They give you penicillin now don't they, in those days they just fixed up a tent to give you oxygen. I was very very ill and it's what they call the crisis, you either live or you die. My mother told me after they put all sand outside the front door and under the window so you wouldn't hear the noise and they wrapped an old piece of flannel round the door knocker so it just gave a thump instead of a bang,

I was top of the class at school but my mother couldn't afford to pay for the books and rulers and things for me to go on... so I left at 14 and I went to work in this sweet factory. No - first of all I went to work on a farm on the outskirts but my father didn't like me working there 'cos there were too many men there, he says, for a young 14 year old girl so I came back home and I went to work in this sweet factory. All the young girls worked there and I used to get ten shillings a week.

There was no work in Wales, everyone was out of work, and he (her husband) went to Birmingham and he learnt the metal trade and he went to Burgess Products, got a job there. He finished there and then we took the shop in Trinity Lane - there were some argument with the management. It was a VG shop - we sold everything.

We bought a house on Sketchley Hill. George Clark was building there then and we thought it was ever such a lot of money - £675 for a three bedroomed house - brand new, bathroom, kitchen and there was an outdoor toilet and an upstairs toilet - it was marvellous. And I know our mortgage was £3.17s.6d (£3.88) a month and I used to think, an awful lot of money.

Growing up in Earl Shilton

The Atherstone Hunt
The Atherstone Hunt

I was seven when I had the first pneumonia, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, and that was just the time when I should have gone to (school)...! was thin as a rake. They put poultices on you - red hot poultices front and back. It was a paste from the chemist... they'd leave it on for so long...'cos you were tight... and of course it used to make you sweat and go delirious, you know, and they gave you ten days whether you lived or not. When I first got out of bed the doctor said she'll be alright now. Me dad carried me down the stairs, put me against a big guard - the hobs were like this, there was that there for the water, that for the fire and the other for the oven and a big rack where your head were, so there were a big guard - he put me against the guard and my legs buckled and I said, 'Ooh I can't stand Dad.

If you ever wanted to know anything, what you wanted to do was just get your dolls or whatever, pretend you was interested in the dolls and listen to their conversation, I knew no end of scandal about (Earl) Shilton that my mother and her friends talked about and they used to think I wasn't listening.

Well, I tell the truth, I always thought you busted open, you know, like an orange, and one day, I don't think I'd be ten.,.and I said to mother I'm going down the toilet, well you had to come out the back door and down to the toilet that was a pan lavatory. We had to put us coat on you see and she said, 'Don't go in that stock yard, your dad's got the sheep in there.' So I went with all full intentions not to go in, got halfway down to boiler and this here sheep were going, 'BaaaaP and I thought poor thing, it's poorly. I just looked over and as I looked over there were popping out a head, all blood and head. Well of course I watched until it all come out and I thought oh I'm going to be sick.

So I went to school and the lady across from one of my friends had a baby and she used to housekeep for this wireless fellow, you know, electrical. So this girl said, 'Oh you know Mrs so and so, she's had a baby, it's come by wireless/ So I said, 'Don't talk so silly, don't you know where they come from?' She came back to school and she said, I told my mam what you told me and she said, 'Oh yes it's true." I says, 'Oh my goodness!' Her mother was ever such a nice lady you know and I was supposed to be a nice girl.

That's what they thought in them days, 'Boys don't bring the trouble home so let things go'. They didn't bother you know so much with boys as daughters. And I tell you what a lot of the older women did do these illegal abortions. I do know one girl, she was engaged to a fellow in the Navy, I don't think it belonged to him. She got pregnant, she had an illegal abortion and she died. They took her to the infirmary too late. Now someone knew something about that didn't they. Yes. We knew one woman, we used to call her Mrs Stop'um. They said she used crochet hooks - now isn't it wicked - come to think of it you know. And even taking stuff, you're poisoning something aren't you? Oh no, it was hush hush 'cos they could have been had up couldn't they? They tried to find out who done it with this girl but she never spoke. It was common knowledge, I don't know how many people in Shilton remember it now. Some families weren't talked to but this family weren't disliked, it wasn't a wicked family you see.

My mother said, 'What you going to do?' so I said, 'I think I'll be a hairdresser.' I never thought about going in an office 'cos it wasn't very well paid in those days - office kids only got ten shillings (50p) I think. There was a lady hairdresser in Shilton but she wanted paying and there weren't a lot of scope then I should have had to have gone to Leicester - and my mum said no way are you going to Leicester, so I had a month where I didn't go to work did I, 'cos I didn't want to go work; so some lady, I mean, I could smack her really, she said, 'You got any work?' So I said, 'No1 I hadn't been after any - so she says Bradburys the hosiery want girls. So my mum done no more than turns round and takes me there, 'cos you went with them then you know, like little dogs, so I went with her. 'Oh yes, we'll set you on, start on Monday'. I didn't say I didn't want to go I went. I didn't want to go at all, I didn't like it at all, but I got on and I was earning about 36 shillings (£1.80) a week which was good 'cos my dad's farm labourers were only getting that. I only had ten shillings for start but when they put me on my own time, you see I was with a lot of older women, I earnt 36 shillings, mind you they were on £2 odd.

So I was doing alright but they didn't have any work, so I was having half days and days off, so when it came to going to work I didn't want to go did I 'cos I didn't really enjoy it, I only enjoyed the money. One of my mum's friends, her husband was a pattern cutter down at Eatoughs (Shilton)...! was 17 nearly then so of course he got me a job and I've never looked back from there, never lost any time - got on a machine soon got going and earnt the money and I went back and forward to there until I was about 59 and then they retired you.

Oh yes it was horrible, it had a horrible smell, see the shoeing had got a smell, and the hosiery, and it smelt of oil. I thought, oh dear, I shall never eat my lunch but do you know, I ate my lunch every day and I started to get fat. I enjoyed it really at times. The women were a bit rough and ready and they used to tell me no end of tales you know, like they do, and I used to...ha ha, oh I do remember it, some of the things they used to tell you.

I told her I'd been going with him - it was my husband you see, I don't know how I could go with him without telling her 'cos he'd got to come up from this farm you see, so I said, 'Mam, I've got a boyfriend. She said, 'You're not old enough.' I thought to myself, I've been old enough for a little while. I said, Is it alright if I go with him, I've been going with the four of us. 'No it's not alright,' she said so I had to stop going with him. Well when I was about 19, I thought, well I'm going to defy her now so I just came home one night and I'd met him and was going out with him on my own and I said, 'By the way I'm going out with T.W. tonight,' and she never said anything 'cos if she had have done I'd have said well I'm going whatever you say. Course we got married in the finish. They didn't want me to get married, they wanted me to stop at home and look after them didn't they.

I got married soon after I was 20 and then I came to live at Hinckley but I had no luck - work was ever so bad you know in them days - it was '36 and '37. Well, I'd got a job at Eatoughs, the slipper firm. You could always get a job there if you'd worked there and got a good name, so I went back to Earl Shilton to get my job back.